venerdì 14 agosto 2015

Tahiti and Moorea: Sailing Mecca

Once we were done with Teahupoo, we were really impatient to arrive in Papeete. Sounds weird but since Panama it's the first big city we are going to touch. I don't know if we had maybe too many expectations or if things have changed, but the first look to the capital was not corresponding at all to what we have been imagining. Anyway our mission was to buy a new lap top, a few surf shorts and obviously a new board. Moving around in Tahiti can be pretty dodgy. Buses are not really the best solution, however better than nothing. Another option is eco-scooter: they rent cars and scooters for less than 30 bucks per day right in front of the Faaa Int. Airport. I personally prefer to hitchhike and every time we meet interesting people with lots of stories to share. The funny thing was that the first two persons I met hitchhiking were a surfboard shaper and the wife of the owner of the biggest company of professional kitchen equipment in French Polynesia.

Papeete is an average nice city, as I already told something changed from the past and lots of businesses closed down, letting their buildings become old right in front city's main street on the esplanade. We heard also a few stories of robber activity and tourists attacked from drunk locals, so we pushed on the side the trusting feeling built until now going along the Marquesas and Tuamotus and brought back the usual traveler guard on our belongings. But Tahiti is not only Papeete.

The Captain decided to drop the anchor in front of the Marina Tahina on a 13mt blue water with sand bottom in good company with other hundreds boats coming from all over the world. Tahiti is really the non return point. We met people with different stories, but at the end of the day, they all had a reason to remain in this place.

What do I think? Life here is perfect but expensive. Jobs are not the easiest thing to find. But if you can afford it, this is the place to be! Mountains surrounding the blue lagoon, lots of fish and some of the best surf spots in the world. People are nice and you can find anything from food to cinema, good health care and obviously internet. The ferry to Moorea takes only 20min and you have plenty of options of things to do. Our experience on board of Lazy Jack is still outstanding and even if Alice gives me hard time to keep her eyes away from the handsome Tahitian boys that are really everywhere, often half naked paddling on their kayak or sup while training for the 14th July race, I try to keep myself busy and calm going surfing at Tapuna, a world series left handed close by the boat. Fortunately I'm back on the water thanks to Teva Bonno owner of Teva Surfbord that after a few hours spent to talk about UZIWA and Tahiti's surf session with the full moon, he sent me straight to his good friend from Stone Fish board Shop to buy my new baby.

Finally I can also provide the refrigerator with plenty of good and different food. Every time we left the supermarket with a big smile we knew that on the other side the Captain is on board having an heart attack in front of is mobile connected with his credit card.

We didn't have the chance to visit a lot the island in land, but some friends told us about plenty options for trekking, bird watching and biking. We concentrate our energy to repair all our technology stuff and surf as much as we can while we were also waiting for the next two friends coming on board. Directly from Istanbul, an hilarious and easy going couple of doctors. They are going to spend with us the next fifteen days.

First step, moving to the Marina in town, for our leaving party. It was nice to meet again all the crews from Pied-à-Mer, Lorien, Family Circus, Shine, Etc...

All the boats are here for the “rendez-vous”, the annual pirogue competition departing from Papeete and arriving in Moorea. There are any kind of thing in the water participating on this comp, from canoe to SUP, sailing boats, catamarans, swimmers, etc... The same night we arrived at the marina, we had also the chance to go out and party hard with all the young friends from other boat. We ended up in a creepy and empty Karaoke bar that, after the first jar of the local Hinano beer, was the friendliest ever. As usual I found myself amazed by the difference of the people around me.

The Captain decided to leave to Moorea two days before the comp, and that was a very good decision that allowed us to arrive there, set the boat in the best spot and watch the “rendez-vous” coming to us. It was funny that we were deciding all together where we could go snorkeling and suddenly three turtles appeared right under our nose. That's how we discovered that we dropped the anchor right on one of the most amazing spot to dive with turtles. Being deep underwater is always exiting, and for some reasons there are moments that seem to slow down the time around you. When you take that last breath and your head leads you down in the deep blue, I often have the feeling I didn't breath enough. However I find myself confident and relax until I touch the bottom. I'm surrounded by corals, silence and turtles staring at me. Two of them not more than a meter far from my face. I guess they are as curious as I am. They move very little and make a tour around as if they knew they are making me an unforgettable gift. When I look up the surface, I see Alice starting to come down as well and my chronometer is telling me two and half minutes.

One of the first rule of free diving is not to look up, in order to keep calm and relaxed. Nevertheless, I like to stare at the boat's hulls and the surface of the water while taking my body back. The enormity of the blue ocean makes every thing small enough to let me think how much I belong to that place.

Before leaving to Huahine, we have the time to discover a magical unique place: not far from the Intercontinental Hotel you can find a place in shallow water (1,20 m and white soft sand) where schools of huge Pastenague rays and black tip sharks come and are really glad to meet you!! These rare stingrays are so nice and love to kiss people in the face! About the sharks... forget about Jaws, here in Polynesia sharks are like all other animals: si no toque, no molesta! (You don't touch, they don't hurt!).

Concluding, Moorea is really the perfect place if you want to escape Tahiti's crowd without forgetting it. The ferry to Papeete is only 20 minutes so you can even enjoy the waves in Hapiti, have a good lunch in a floating restaurant placed in the middle of the reef and be back in town for a movie and obviously the Karaoke at night!!!